Articles Posted in Criminal Legislation

As most lawyers — and a lot of other people who interact with the legal system can tell you — the law has many quirks, peculiarities, and loopholes. Sometimes, those nuances may work to your benefit. Other times, though, they represent potential pitfalls to be avoided. These loopholes represent just one more serious reason why, if you’re a non-citizen facing possible criminal charges here, it pays to have a Maryland attorney on your side who’s familiar with both immigration law and this state’s criminal laws.

A lot of states have something called “probation before judgment” (PBJ). This is when a criminal defendant is placed on probation before a judgment is entered in their case. If that person complies fully with the terms of his/her probation, then no conviction is entered on his/her criminal record.

Delaware has PBJ. Virginia does as well. Maryland also does but, for the unwary non-citizen, Maryland law contains a potentially catastrophic loophole, which some state legislators are seeking to close.

Continue reading

Maryland’s criminal justice system may seem complicated and intimidating to a person who has been arrested or charged with a crime. It is important to remember, however, that you may be able to assert any number of valid defenses. For instance, there exist both substantive and procedural criminal defense strategies. Substantive defenses are aimed at negating an element of the crime (e.g., lack of intent), while procedural defenses focus on the circumstances surrounding the investigation of the alleged crime. For example, law enforcement activities must follow established legal procedures and any investigation may not violate an individual’s constitutional rights. For these reasons, anyone arrested or charged with a crime is strongly encouraged to contact an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Despite the availability of various defense strategies, keep in mind that many crimes, whether categorized as a felony or a misdemeanor, carry a statutory minimum sentence. With respect to certain drug-related offenses, critics have argued that minimum sentences often exceed the nature of the crime, result in prison overcrowding, and waste taxpayer dollars. In an effort to address these concerns and many others, Maryland Governor, Larry Hogan, recently announced recommendations by the Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council. According to the Governor’s press release, the recommendations are intended to safely reduce Maryland’s incarcerated population, control corrections spending, and reinvest in more effective, less expensive strategies to reduce recidivism and increase public safety.

Continue reading

Laws affecting criminal cases are continuously evolving, granting (and in some cases, limiting) certain rights. Some of these laws are intended to provide a person who has been convicted of a crime with rights they formerly did not have. The importance of staying abreast of the most current changes in the criminal law arena cannot be overstated. Anyone facing a criminal arrest or related charges must act quickly to prepare a defense. The most efficient way to do so is with the assistance of an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney, someone who keeps track of the laws and how they affect criminal cases.

According to an recent article in the Maryland Reporter, as of this past October 1, 2015, several enacted Maryland laws will go into effect. They cover areas such as criminal expungement, DNA evidence, medical marijuana, and drunk driving. Knowing the intricacies of each law can help one to prepare an appropriate and useful defense. For example, one of the latest provisions, also known as Senate Bill 651, permits people who have been convicted of crimes to petition the court for expungement, if the act at the heart of the conviction is no longer a crime in Maryland. Expungement means that a person convicted of a crime would be able to “obliterate” it from their record.

Continue reading

A criminal arrest or charge is a serious matter that must be addressed accordingly. A defendant has much to lose in a criminal case, including his or her freedom, reputation, and future. There are many ways that one may respond to a criminal arrest, from raising a strong and solid defense that negates the crime to setting forth arguments that could serve to reduce the severity of the charges. In some cases, the defendant’s attorney may even argue that the law under which the person was charged is unconstitutional for one reason or another. While these arguments are not very common, they do occur, and, in some cases, the defendant is successful. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, it is imperative that you contact a local Maryland criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can help to protect your rights and prepare a defense strategy that suits the circumstances.

In a recent case, the highest court in Maryland reviewed a criminal defendant’s challenge to the state’s trademark counterfeiting statute. According to the facts revealed at trial, during a traffic stop of defendant’s vehicle, the police found 206 DVDs in the car. An investigator on the case testified – as an expert in the field of counterfeit DVDs – that all of the DVDs found in the vehicle contained “numerous counterfeit marks” and were considered “counterfeit reproductions” of movies on DVD. Defendant testified that he was a licensed vendor and authorized by the state to sell the items. Continue reading

Although Zimmerman was acquitted, the Trayvon Martin shooting is continuing to have a significant impact on lawmakers. By now most Maryland residents have heard of controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws in connection with George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida.

“Stand your ground” is one of four legal concepts related to self-defense. The other three are “Duty to retreat,” “castle doctrine,” and “self-defense.” The last of these is designed to protect an innocent person who is attacked—it is what was applied to the Trayvon Martin case, even though “stand your ground” was associated with the case. The castle doctrine is like self-defense, but it only applies to home, place of work, vehicle and real property.

The state of Maryland follows the “duty to retreat” law. A “duty to retreat” means that someone who might be being attacked cannot resort to deadly force or self-defense if it is possible to safely avoid the harm. Continue reading

Recently Maryland has been considering criminal bills related to the special protection of minors. This year, the “Misuse of Interactive Computer Service” bill, also known as “Grace’s Law”, is expected to be signed into law. Sponsored by Senator Allen Kittleman, it is a General Assembly bill named after a high school student who killed herself last year after getting harassed for months on social media. The bill makes it a misdemeanor to harass minors online, putting in place penalties in the form of a $500 fine or up to 1 year in jail.

The goal of the new law is to prohibit intentionally harassing and annoying speech towards a minor, but some critics have noted that these terms are not adequately defined within the new law. The ACLU has already stated that the cyberbullying bill is unconstitutional and will probably be struck down by a free speech challenge. An ACLU attorney says that part of the bill prohibits using a computer “in a course of conduct that inflicts serious emotional distress.”

Continue reading

Contact Information